Solon accuses gov’t of ‘pressuring, threatening’ skipper of PH boat
MANILA, Philippines — An opposition lawmaker in the House of Representatives said it is no longer surprising that Junel Insigne, the captain of the Filipino boat rammed by a Chinese vessel in the West Philippine Sea, seemed to have changed his tune after meeting Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol on Wednesday.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate believes that Insigne and his crew were already “pressured” and “threatened” by the administration through Piñol, who visited them in Occidental Mindoro and gave them new fishing boats and financial aid.
“It’s not surprising na ‘yung mga statement ng ating mga biktima, mga mangingisda ay nagbago… There was really pressure, they were bombarded by so much misinformation… siguro may mga pagbabanta and overall bina-bribe sila…” Zarate said during Thursday’s weekly press briefing of the progressive Makabayan bloc in the chamber.
Zarate also warned that President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement downplaying the ramming incident in Recto Bank (Reed Bank) on June 9 as a “little maritime incident,” could embolden China’s aggression and bullying inside the Philippine’s exclusive economic zone.
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas for her part echoed the demand for accountability of the 22 Filipino fishermen who had been abandoned by the Chinese crew.
“We are challenging the Duterte administration na talagang bigyan ng accountability o bigyan ng hustisya ‘yung ating mga mangingisda…” Brosas said.
Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago said the ramming incident and the administration’s inaction on it should spark collective action from the public.
“Malinaw sa kabataan na ang nakataya rito ‘yung ating kinabukasan, ‘yung yamang likas at kagaragatan ng ating bayan. Kaya nananawagan kami sa lahat na dapat magpatuloy ang ating mga pagkilos at pagkundena sa mga nangyaring ito,” Elago said.
“Ito ‘yung mga pagkakataon na kailangan sana ‘yung tunay na tapang at malasakit pero kabaligtaran ‘yung nakikita natin ngayon mula sa Duterte administration,” she added.
In a separate statement, Misamis Oriental 2nd District Rep. Juliette Uy called for sobriety among all parties directly involved in the incident, saying they should let the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) do its investigation.
“The Philippine Coast Guard has started its work on the case. I believe all the national authorities must respect the jurisdiction of the PCG on this, so they should all step back to let PCG do its work well,” Uy said.
The congresswoman also suggested that the Coast Guard give the public and the media a timeline of their investigation, as well as the parameters and procedures of their investigation. (Editor: Jonathan P. Vicente)
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